This tense in Italian is called passato remoto. Remote past tense or absolute past tense. Italian past tense imperfetto, instead, is used to: describe past habits: Da piccolo, andavo spesso al mare (=”When I was a kid, I used to go often to the seaside”) describe actions in progess in the past (usually introduced by mentre): Mentre mangiavo, è arrivato Gianni (=”While I was eating, Gianni came in”) To speak a language, you don’t necessarily need to know all its grammar rules. And this applies to the verbs as well. In fact, people tend to talk in a more simple way than when they write. Italian Lesson 1. IERI HO VISTO UN BEL FILM Yesterday I watched a good movie. The most common way of expressing the past tense in Italian is with the "passato prossimo" (present perfect), composed of an auxiliary verb (avere or essere) and the past participle. So, when you’re just starting out with Italian, do you need to learn the past tenses for writing novels? Probably not. Level 2 Lesson 1: Italian Past Tense, Imperfetto, Perfect, and Remote Past. 10 ANNI FA SONO ANDATO A NEW YORK Of all of these Italian past tenses, the imperfetto is the second most frequently used. The Perfect Past Tense: IL PASSATO PROSSIMO The Italian Passato Prossimo is used to express anything that HAPPENED (took place) in the past (regardless of its proximity to now). It is, in other words, the past of the past—preceding the passato prossimo. Italian has a total of 21, divided into two forms (compared to 12 tenses in English) and a total of seven moods, also split into two categories. 5 VERB TENSES MOST USED IN SPOKEN ITALIAN . Could you work out what they mean on … SOME EXAMPLES. The trapassato prossimo in Italian, an indicative compound tense, expresses an action completed in the past and preceding another action in the past. The number of verb tenses in Italian can feel overwhelming. This tense can be found with marker words such as 5/10 anni fa (5/10 years ago), l'anno scorso (last year), nel 1300/1500 (in 1300/1500). An action that has a beginning and an end. This particular tense is one you will find yourself using way more than you would ever imagine. In Italian, there are tenses which are hardly ever used in speech, but commonly found in past narratives, like novels. This tense is used to refer to an action that took place in the distant past. (Here's a full explanation of what that means.). But all this can feel a bit much when you're still perfecting your coffee order. The past subjunctive, which is used for hypotheticals, and the remote past tense (or passato remoto) which replaces passato prossimo in many works of literature.